Today United Continental (the merged airline) announced that the board was adding a 15th "independent" member. As I understand this addition, the goal was meant to reduce tensions between (not too independent) investment factions (not so independent) currently on the board.
Why should we in the nonprofit sector care about such compromises? I believe this action by the airline board provides the opportunity to consider the subject of board member diversity. In my experience, many nonprofit boards are constructed through networks. Networks tend to be comprised of individuals with "like" core values and beliefs and it makes sense that a group of like-minded folks would share a theory of change that brings them to a nonprofit table to take action. But over time, the criteria for how members are recruited should change with the times.
There is a paradigm about nonprofits that indicates that nonprofits formed to make a specific change can develop beyond calling for change to being (at least in olden times) the actual provider of services for the state and federal governments. And in subsequent time, this nonprofit, now "the system" moves other folks to step-up and call for change recognizing that the original change agent is what needs to be changed. So too for nonprofit boards.
I believe that the effective board is one that reflects and recognizes when its lens no longer provides as clear a picture about who has what needs, how to serve best, and how best to pay for serving. Different "hands-on-deck" can embrace the founding mission while enriching the theory of change to make it current and appropriate AND reach new audiences that will make the connections between the nonprofit and the community. And equally important, folks with different lens can add balance to a board who's prior balance only meant "no change" or disharmony.